Je­sus will be­come one of the great­est ever, claims Alves

City for­ward ex­pected to em­u­late Ron­aldo Brazil coach Tite says Eng­land are a ‘big team’

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Sam Dean

If Mar­cus Rash­ford truly hopes to be­come the “new Ron­aldo”, then his first task may have to be wrestling the ti­tle from an­other 20-yearold striker who plies his trade in Manch­ester.

For as much as Rash­ford takes in­spi­ra­tion from Ron­aldo’s goals, as he re­vealed this week, so is Gabriel Je­sus be­ing asked to em­u­late the Brazil­ian great. The Manch­ester City striker, who will start in at­tack for Brazil at Wem­b­ley tonight, has been her­alded as Ron­aldo re­born by none other than Dani Alves, his in­ter­na­tional team-mate and a man well versed in foot­balling great­ness.

“For all that he has done, all that he has achieved, there is no pres­sure,” said Alves, who makes up a strong Brazil­ian con­tin­gent at Paris St-ger­main af­ter eight years with Barcelona and a spell at Ju­ven­tus.

“He is do­ing what he loves. I was not jok­ing when I called him the new Ron­aldo. I still think the same. They have a sim­i­lar drive. He is go­ing to be one of the great play­ers in foot­ball. He is al­ready one of the best in the world.”

In 12 games for Brazil, Je­sus has al­ready claimed seven goals and four as­sists.

De­spite his age, the for­mer Palmeiras striker is fast be­com­ing a cru­cial cog in a Brazil­ian ma­chine that is fi­nally run­ning smoothly, un­der man­ager Tite, af­ter years of splut­ter­ing dis­ap­point­ment.

Much like he does for Pep Guardi­ola’s City, where Je­sus has never lost a game, the 20-year-old pro­vides both clin­i­cal fin­ish­ing and the plat­form for the other at­tack­ing stars to thrive. He has formed a fright­en­ingly ef­fi­cient part­ner­ship with Ney­mar, who op­er­ates on the left of Brazil’s at­tack, and will also link up with Liver­pool’s Philippe Coutinho this evening.

“City should be very pleased with Palmeiras and the coaches there who formed a player who is al­ready at such a good level,” said Tite. “He came here [to Eng­land] with a nat­u­ral flu­ency. The men­tal ca­pac­ity he has and his tech­ni­cal abil­ity – he did not need much time to adapt. He was al­ready show­ing a good level.”

Eng­land, of course, have their own tal­is­manic striker to call upon, even if Harry Kane has been ruled out of tonight’s friendly through in­jury.

Asked about Eng­land’s prospects at next year’s World Cup, Tite cited Kane as a pri­mary rea­son for Gareth South­gate’s side be­ing “one of the favourites” for the tour­na­ment.

“Kane is a penalty-box player with an im­pres­sive fin­ish­ing abil­ity,” said Tite. “He is good in the air, good with his right foot and left. It’s very im­pres­sive – he has a lot of qual­ity.

“The char­ac­ter­is­tics of Je­sus and Kane are a bit dif­fer­ent. Gabriel at­tacks the space and gives us that depth. Kane is more po­si­tional. They are two strong strik­ers.

“All the big teams, like Eng­land, have this new gen­er­a­tion com­ing through. Even though South­gate has only had 13 games so far, they have Dele Alli, Kane and the ex­pe­ri­ence of Gary Cahill.

“They have got tra­di­tion which car­ries weight, so I see Eng­land as one of the favourites. And I am not just say­ing that be­cause I am here at Wem­b­ley speak­ing in front of English peo­ple.”

Un­der the man­age­ment of Tite, who de­scribed him­self as “su­per, su­per happy” to be manag­ing his coun­try, Brazil saun­tered through World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion, claim­ing 32 points from an avail­able 36.

In the 16 matches since he took over from the sacked Dunga, Brazil have scored 38 goals and con­ceded only five. They will tonight be cap­tained by Alves, who said it was “very spe­cial to play at a tem­ple of foot­ball like Wem­b­ley”.

In re­cent days, though, at­ten­tion has swung away from Brazil­ian bril­liance and to­wards Ney­mar, the world’s most ex­pen­sive player, who broke down in tears dur­ing a press con­fer­ence over re­ports that he had strained re­la­tions with PSG coach Unai Emery. “He is an ex­tra­or­di­nary player in two ways: he is a goalscorer and a player who makes goals,” said Tite of Ney­mar. “He is au­then­tic and hu­man.”

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